Living Columns & Blogs

Find your coordinates in the map of your relationship

How do we order our lives? There seems to be an overpowering urge to “pair bond” — that’s marriage therapist speak for “hook up.” And not only do we want to get connected, we generally have a very powerful urge to stay connected.

I recently heard a story about a mountain lion from the black hills of South Dakota finding his way to Connecticut. The biologists say he was looking for a mate. Having been pushed out of his home territory, he went looking for love. Moving east he passed the Great Lakes, swam rivers, crossed multiple highways and subdivisions. The only problem was there were no female cougars — young or old — east of his home range. He moved completely off of the map.

Though we have a growing movement toward living as singles, the majority of folks locate themselves, or order their lives, through coupling.

I want to consider the connections in the words “ordinance,” “coordinates” and “coordinate.”

First, an ordinance can be defined as an authoritative decree or direction, bringing to mind a law or prescription for ceremony. The church uses this language when it prescribes the Lord’s Supper, baptism and marriage.

Coordinates are a set of values that show an exact position. Coordinates describe points on the lines of longitude and latitude. Those are the long lines that crisscross our globe either going pole-to-pole or parallel to the equator. Of course these lines are opposites and their intersections determine specific locations.

Maybe you remember the sacred intersection ordered by the ceremony celebrating your marriage. Wordy, but a truth worth exploring. In coupling, we seek to order our lives based on our intersection with our significant other.

Remember, the intersection of these map coordinates provide a location, the center point of the ordering of our lives.

But sometimes we get selfish and think our line is more important than the intersection.

Is the banjo more important than the drum? Is the organ more important than the bass? No, it takes different instruments to make music and two lines to make an intersection.

Allow me to be direct about ordering your shared life together. Basic acts of kindness are a prerequisite for happiness in your marriage. You would think people would know this, but somehow folks act out their anger with those closest to them and give their kindness away to strangers.

Humbleness will be a basic virtue of a well-ordered relationship. Courage and sincerity provide depth and counter point. Service and sincerity keep us from getting lost in ego and in fear.

When we coordinate, we organize, strategize and harmonize. Our efforts become beautiful music. Through coordinating our efforts, we synchronize our work and play.

To coordinate means to bring into common action, movement or condition. No relationship is perfect — and don’t confuse yourself by judging and by comparing. Stay on your map, order yourself with love, and choose joy by coordinating in your coupling.

Bruce Conn is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and works with individuals and couples. Contact him at or call 478-742-1464.